It is a sad day for those who us who have been loyal Sons of Anarchy fans for the past 6 years. I could go on a long rant about everything that has happened and my thoughts on the series finale that we will be watching tonight, but I won’t. In honor of the series finale I am going to share with you, my 10 favorite buys for motorcycles in 2014. We’ll count down from 10 to 1 to keep the suspense like our friend Kurt Sutter does in SOA.
10. Star Bolt
Price: Starts at $7990
The Japanese bike builders are never shy about emulating American cruisers, but this time Star (Yamaha’s cruiser division) has not only cloned the legendary Harley-Davidson Sportster, but somehow improved on the American classic. The new Bolt is an entry-level cruiser bike that targets the Harley Iron 883. But the Bolt’s 942-cc twin delivers more torque, so it’s probably slightly quicker than the Harley. There’s more suspension travel, as well, so there’s a definitive ride quality advantage too. And at just under eight grand, the Bolt costs about $400 less than the Iron 883. It’s one of the best deals out there for an affordable, classically styled cruiser.
9. Indian Chief Classic
Price: Starting at $18,999
Remaking an icon is a risky business. You can tarnish the name of something that was once great. This time, the team at Polaris did it right. Isn’t she beautiful?
To start, they developed an enormous 111-cubic-inch V-twin. This bad boy boasts a respectable 119 lb-ft of torque. The engineers dressed the motor in a new frame and gorgeous retro bodywork.
The new Indian bikes are available in three models: the Classic, Vintage, and Chieftain. And while it might be hard to look at a nearly $20,000 motorcycle as a good value, in the world of cruisers, the Indians offer a lot of standard equipment for the price. For instance, full leather seats and saddlebags come standard on the Vintage model, and a power windshield comes standard on the Chieftain‚ all though those two cost more than the Classic. All bikes come with keyless starting.
8. Yamaha FZ-09
Price: Starting at $7990
It’s usually the bikes that have been on the market for a while that tend to be the best values. Not in this case. The new FZ-09 costs around $800 less than the outgoing model, and it gets better. The new Yamaha also undercuts the competition by more than a grand, making the FZ-09 one of the best deals of the year.
Beyond the money, this is one fun-to-ride and tough-looking machine. The new 850-cc triple belts out 115 hp and enough torque to have you squirting through traffic. As fun as the FZ-09 is in the canyons, it doesn’t beat the rider up on city streets‚Äîthe suspension is on the soft side, which we appreciate.
7. Victor Cross Roads 8-Ball
Price: Starting at $15,999
In our opinion, this is the best deal you’re going to get on a new Victory bike. These blacked-out models look sinister because there’s nearly no chrome on them at all. We like the look, and, in the case of the new Cross Roads 8-Ball, it saves two full grand over the standard model. And the riding experience is no different than any other Cross Roads, because under the tank is the same torquey 106-cubic-inch V-Twin paired to a six-speed.
The Cross Roads is one the purest bagger-style cruisers around‚Äîthere is no windshield or extra bodywork, just a couple of hard, lockable saddlebags. If you’ve got a few extra dollars in your wallet, there are plenty of Victory accessories that can help the 8-Ball stand out at the local Sunday biker spot.
6. Kawasaki Ninja 1000
Price: Starting at $11,999
The new Ninja 1000 could be called a crossover sportbike. Yes, it’s an aggressively styled, hyper-quick sportbike, but it’s also mellow enough in temperament to appeal to the everyday rider or weekend tourer. The Ninja 1000’s 125-hp motor is an animal‚Äîbuilt to provide serious back-road thrills. Good thing, then, that this bike comes standard with the same three-mode traction control system as Kawasaki’s top-level ZX-14R, as well as ABS. Getting that level of technology on a bike under twelve grand is bargain. Best of all, the Ninja 1000 can be optioned with hard saddlebags, so this sportbike can handle many long miles just like a real sport tourer.
5. Ducati 899 Panigale
Price: Starting at $14,995
Ducati’s heroic and hard-edged 1199 Panigale superbike is a monster that delivers nearly 200 hp of nearly racing bike performance on a track. It also costs just shy of $20,000. Opt for the even more focused R model and that price tag moves up to nearly $30,000. But the new 899 Panigale brings a taste of that performance down to where many more wallets can enjoy the fun.
The 898-cc twin still belts out nearly 150 hp‚Äîplenty on any back road. The smaller Panigale borrows from the chassis of the larger bike and packs many of the advanced technical features too, including traction control, switchable engine tuning maps, a ride-by-wire throttle, and more. When you consider the engineering, the tech, and the Ducati racing pedigree, fifteen grand for a top-flight Italian sport bike is a descent value.
4. Harley-Davidson Sportster Superlow
Price: Starting at $8249
For many bikers, the only ride worth owning has the name Harley-Davidson stamped on the side of the fuel tank. There’s an authenticity to the brand that can’t be duplicated. Unfortunately, many of the more elaborate bikes in Harley’s stable are quite expensive. But way down at the bottom of the range is the Sportster Superlow, an entry-level cruiser that still delivers the Harley experience.
The Superlow, as the name suggests, has the lowest seat height (27.4 inches) in the Sportster range. It’s about a half-inch closer to the ground than other Sportsters. That makes it a great bike for new or shorter riders. The Superlow might be the least expensive Harley, but it still benefits from a host of improvements for the brand’s 2014 model year, including a larger and more powerful braking system with optional ABS. And the best part about owning a Harley is that there are plenty of custom parts available to make the bike your own.
3. Victory Judge
Available in Gloss Black, Sunset Red, or Suede Nuclear Sunset for 2014, the Judge’s retro muscle car looks are sleek and inspired. Victory listened to customers who complained about the ergonomics on the original Judge and added some ergonomic refinements a couple years back, such as bringing the bars back to meet the rider and moving foot controls rearward as well.
Its 1731cc Freedom V-twin gives you 113 ft.-lbs of torque for the taking. It also boasts a 6-speed overdrive transmission, so you won’t get up into 5th, leaving you wishing you had one more gear. This is retro done right.
2. Star VMAX
Price: Starting at $17,990
So what’s the big deal about the VMAX? Just, you know, the fact that it’s a 1679cc V4-powered beast that makes 174 hp and can do 0 to 60 in a mere 2.5 seconds. It boasts a 30.5-inch seat height, just like the Ducati Diavel. Pricing is similar to the Diavel Dark, but at least a grand less than the other Diavel variants. The Diavel is its closest competition, and like the Duc, its madly futuristic style is polarizing. No matter how we ultimately feel about individual designs themselves, we love it when manufacturers make bikes that don’t look like anything else on the road
1. Harley-Davidson V-Rod Muscle (VRSCF)
Price: Starting at $15,489
Powered by the 1247cc Revolution V-twin, that makes 122 hp with 86 ft.-lbs of torque, this bike was made for the drag strip. Since its introduction, the V-Rod has divided fans of The Motor Company. Its styling is a clear and modern departure from the venerable classic styling for which H-D is known worldwide, and that engine … well, that engine is also in a liquid-cooled class of its own.
We’ll throw in one more for good measure!
Confederate X132 Hellcat